A troupe of Chinese Michael Jackson impersonators grabbed their crotches and moonwalked for hundreds of screaming fans in Beijing as a documentary of his final concert rehearsals opened here.
Fans wearing single white gloves and clutching posters of the late pop star shrieked as the lookalikes danced in unison to hits such as Thriller and Beat It outside the central Beijing cinema where the film was screened at midnight on Tuesday.
"I came here from Shanxi province to pay my respect to Michael Jackson. I admire him," state Xinhua news agency quoted high school student Bai Bin as saying.
Another diehard Chinese fan, 60-year-old Zhao Min, said Jackson's music was "full of vitality".
"I love his moonwalk very much," Zhao said before the screening of This Is It, a two-hour documentary culled from more than 100 hours of never-before-seen footage of rehearsals for a series of concerts in London.
Jackson died on June 25 in Los Angeles after suffering cardiac arrest at age 50. He had spent months rehearsing for the 50-concert series, which were to have begun in July.
Authorities have since ruled his death a homicide after coroners revealed that he had a lethal cocktail of six different drugs in his body.
As Heal the World played, the Chinese impersonators lined up on stage to pay tribute to the fallen King of Pop before entering the 1,100-seat cinema for the premiere, which was sold out within days of tickets going on sale.
"That has never happened before," a cinema spokesman told the China Daily. "The best premiere record used to be Transformers. But the MJ documentary is even better than that."
This Is It will be screened in English with Chinese subtitles in major cinemas across the capital for two weeks.